It looks like the end of an era for Apple. With multiple reports claiming that the iPhone SE 4 is going to bid farewell to the Home button and another stating that Touch ID won’t be coming back for the iPhone 16 either, it appears that it’s the end of the road for fingerprint authentication on Apple-made handsets.
I, for one, won’t be disappointed by this. The truth is that Face ID has gone from something that I felt initially skeptical about to a feature that I’m a bit of an evangelist for.
I remember covering the iPhone X launch back in 2017 and thinking that removing the Home button just felt like navigation hell, even if it gave you a bit more screen space. My own experiences with Facial unlock had been extremely patchy too, and while the fingerprint authentication on the Samsung Galaxy S7 I was running at the time had been a mixed bag, ditching Touch ID felt like a gamble.
Still, Apple was adamant: Face ID was 20 times more secure than fingerprints, it insisted, claiming that the chance of a stranger being able to unlock your phone with their face being less than one in a million.
It would be five long years before I would learn exactly how wrong I was. Last year I bought my first iPhone since 2009 and frankly Face ID remains my favorite feature and a key reason why I’m unlikely to return to Android any time soon.
Unlike fingerprints, which can be foiled by a slightly misplaced digit or wet hands, it works ridiculously well every time. I love unlocking my phone with a look. I love the way it automatically flashes up to unlock BitWarden whenever I need to enter a password. And as a freelancer who has to check his bank account for paid invoices on a daily basis, I love not having to remember my banking pass number.
My worries about navigation were completely unfounded too. Swiping through the iPhone’s menus and apps feels second nature, even without a Home button to ground you. I’m excited for future iPhone SE owners to get the perks of the big screen and Face ID for themselves in 2025.
I suppose it would be nice to have TouchID as a backup, for the handful of days each year when it’s hot enough in the UK for Face ID to be thwarted by my sunglasses. But one leaker suggests that Apple has all but given up on this idea, going so far as to close down the majority of equipment manufacturing the TouchID chip.
I find myself completely unbothered by this in a way that would surprise my 2017 self: Face ID is so good that there really is no need to cling on to the past any longer. I’m happy for Touch ID to go the way of the Lightning port.
More from Tom's Guide
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.
Who's going to tell him that Android has both facial recognition and fingerprint?Reply
Lol and it has for a while, although it really depends on which Android you get. Alan, if you're reading, just get a Pixel 7 or 8 (reg or Pro) and thank me later.Reply
No, it's not a good thing, at all. Unintentional unlocking simply because you need to look at the screen to see your notifications? Which genius designed that?Reply
At least with Touch ID, I can press the power button to see the notifications without unlocking my phone and leaving it in a perfectly yoinkable state for any passerby.
Already waited too long for SE upgrade/replacement, this is devasting news. So many FaceID products on the market already, they could have left this series alone.